Friday, February 24, 2017

At an airport used by IAF helicopters, farmers cultivate produce right by the runway

Malda: The Malda Air Port, located a few kilometers away from the India-Bangladesh international border, does not witness much air traffic. A tiny bungalow-like concrete structure serves as its terminal and the aerodrome attends to Air Force helicopters, small aircraft and the occasional passenger flight. Flight operations, though rare, take place around four times every week.
However, what really stands out about this 140-acre facility is that nearly half of the land at this airport is used by farmers to cultivate produce. The farming, which has been going on for more than a year now, doesn't take place near or besides the airport. It takes place inside the facility.
Local farmers have turned more than 60 acres of the airport, which has a 3,600-foot runway, into a cultivation ground. And perhaps more surprisingly, the farmers have been able to do so with the active support of authorities with the airport in-charge boldly claiming that the farmers aren't a security threat. Arobindo Saha, the official in charge of the Malda Air Port, told India Today that the government has given the farmers the land to cultivate and that he is not in a position to raise any opposition considering that higher authorities have given permission. But, interestingly, in his conversation to India Today, Saha indicated that he personally sees no reason to oppose the farming.
According to Saha, instead of posing a security threat, the farmers are actually a form of security as they look after and guard the land. And in any case, the area is a not a high-security zone, he adds. However, Saha also told us the the farming will soon come to an end.
24/02/17 Manogya Loiwal/India Today